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What is it?

Hepatitis B is an infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus. It is very infectious (100 times more infectious than HIV) and very easily transmitted through unprotected sex or by sharing needles to inject drugs.

Most people who contract hepatitis B do not have symptoms. If symptoms do occur they can appear one to six months after coming into contact with the virus. The infection can persist for many years and silently cause severe liver damage, including cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.

In most people a full course of vaccination prevents infection. However, in a small number of people it may not be effective.

The following people should consider having the hepatitis B vaccination:

  • Men who have sex with men
  • Anyone who has ever injected drugs
  • Anyone who has been paid for sex
  • Anyone who has paid for sex
  • Anyone who has had nine or more sexual partners within the last 12 months
  • Anyone who has a sexual partner with hepatitis B infection
  • Anyone who has recently been sexually assaulted

Worried about hepatitis B?

For men who have sex with men, our STI self-sampling kits include a hepatitis B test.

Detailed information on STIs is available on the NHS website.

See the FPA website for a range of downloadable leaflets on sexually transmitted infections.

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH) website also features a range of downloadable leaflets on STIs.